“The weight will all come back when you go off it.”

You hear this a lot about any sort of weight-loss diet that the speaker deems to be a “fad” or a scam. Specifically, it seems like this is applied to any of the low-carb protocols you see out there. I’ve certainly heard it said about the paleo diet more than a few times.

But what does this actually mean? I talked before about how overly calorie-restricted diets do actually increase the chance of a weight rebound. That’s just biologically true. You downregulate some metabolic processes, you catabolize some muscle mass, you’re going to burn fewer calories and when you go back to eating what you were before, chances are good the weight will come back as fast or faster than you put it on the first time. But the people who are saying that “the weight will all come back” generally aren’t informed about the process or the mechanism which increases the chances for weight gain if someone goes off the rails. They’re just saying it because they think the diet you’ve chosen is invalid, or a fad or whatever. If we’re being honest, it’s probably more of a way for them to justify not losing weight in the first place (for themselves, most likely) than it is any actual informed opinion about the effectiveness of your diet choices.

So here’s the question: If the weight does come back after you go off the rails on a healthy weight-loss diet and go back to eating pizza, tacos and sundaes, what does that say about the weight-loss diet? I think very little, honestly. Let’s say you eat like I used to eat. Double cheeseburgers with fries and a large drink (with no ice because all that ice just takes up valuable high-fructose corn syrup real estate), the greasiest, nastiest pizza you can find, tacos by the bag, deep-fried macaroni and cheese wedges (yes they exist and they are delicious), and so much candy, I think I personally put all the Wonka children through college. That’s not a good diet by anyone’s measure. Now let’s say you were to start eating a weighed and measured, counted-calorie diet that was at a reasonable daily caloric deficit and that was high in whole grains, high in fruits and vegetables, moderate in protein (at least half from vegetable sources) and almost completely devoid of sugars and saturated animal fats. That’s the diet that the USDA and any number of other governmental organizations want you to be on. If you listen to almost any dietician, doctor, personal trainer or anyone else, that’s a legitimate, long-term, non-fad, healthy diet. Now let’s say you go off the rails on that diet. It starts with a slice of birthday cake and ends with you waking up in a drift of candy wrappers and greasy napkins. You’ve gone “off the diet” and you figure you just don’t have the willpower to handle a diet like that, so you go back to eating your chemical-soaked snack cakes and your sugary cereals and your Hyper Fizz sodas. You had lost some significant weight, but it all came back. Was that the fault of the weight loss diet you had been eating previously, or did you just prove that the same crappy diet that made you fat once can make you fat twice?

That’s my issue with this contention. There has never been any diet at any time in history or in any place in the world that, long-term,  can prevent you from gaining weight after you stop eating that diet and start eating another. Does that even make sense as an expectation? That’s like thinking that there’s a coat you can put on that will keep you warm long after you’ve taken it off. It’s nonsense. It’s an absurd standard to judge a weight loss diet by, for one, and it doesn’t do anything to increase understanding of what does make for a good diet. All it does is attempt to tear down diets that detractors think are invalid when they’re not educated enough to have an informed opinion on the subject.

So what should our measures be for a good diet, then? I think a diet that helps you to be healthy, lean, energetic and happy is a good standard. If you are getting those things out of your USDA food guide plate, then more power to you. If you’ve got a system set up where you eat whatever you want and then go hit a tire with a sledgehammer 200 times to burn off the cheesecake, that’s awesome. Cheesecake is delicious and that tire had it coming. If, however, you’re having problems sleeping or you’re having digestive issues or chronic illnesses or you’ve got more body fat than you’d like, or you’re feeling depressed, it’s worth looking into a new diet to see if it can help. Obviously, I’ve found one that really works for me. You just need to find one that works for you. Do the research. Learn the science. Get educated enough to know why you’re doing what you’re doing so the chubby, helpful people who tell you “the weight will come back” will get a hefty dose of knowledge by way of thanks for their “help”.

Christmas! Also, birthday.

Sorry for the lack of updates, guys. I’ve been very busy with lots of things. Late December is busy for everyone, but extra busy for me, since my birthday is around this time, too. The big 3-0 this year, too. Crazy stuff. However, since I now weigh what I did when I was 18, I don’t feel so bad about the whole getting older thing. I have a wife and a house and a dog and a baby on the way. Life is very good.

My diet definitely took a turn for the worse this week, though. I had a lot of cakes and ice creams and candies and chocolates and everything else. Managed to stay gluten-free, but I was definitely not sticking with my normal, reasonable carb levels with healthy meats and lots of veggies. A friend made me a gluten-free cheesecake that was amazingly delicious and I felt obligated to eat half of it myself so she’d know how much I appreciated her efforts. I appreciated them to the tune of 50,000 calories.

So yeah, things weren’t great. I felt a little sick off and on just because I was throwing so much junk at my body. I’m certain my weight loss came to a screeching halt, too. I’ve got a goal of abs by Valentine’s day (a gift for me and for the wife, right?) so I need to get my butt in gear on it again. I really missed those salads this week. That’s crazy, right? But they’re super good and I really enjoy them. We got a new dressing container that makes everything so much easier. No need to blend anymore, I just put it in the shaker and go to town. So far, I’m super pleased with it. Anything that makes my life easier by way of fewer dishes gets a big thumbs up from me.

I’ve also started doing a few “tub lifts” as I’m calling them. I usually don’t think about working out until I get into the bathroom to get ready in the morning, so I’ve been doing my pushups and dips on the edge of the tub. It’s working well for me so far, especially since I’m still sucking pretty hard at regular pushups on the floor. The garage will eventually be my home gym, but the workout space is full of junk right now, and probably will continue to be for at least the next few weeks. I’m excited to get that all whipped into shape, though. I really liked doing all my ring work, but now there’s a car right where the rings hang, so short of opening the garage door, moving the car, closing the door, and then doing my workout, all directly underneath my pregnant, sleeping wife, I’m not going to do any ring work for a while. I’ll have to keep rolling with doing what I can, though. I’m getting lean enough now that a little extra muscle would look pretty darned good and would probably show up pretty clearly.

Okay, that’s it for now. I’ll keep you posted on my progress this week.

Weigh in

Well I hopped on the scale again this morning. Looks like I’m down to 215.0 lbs. That’s over 30 pounds lost since switching to a paleo diet. And I’m still far from perfect with my food choices. I’ve just been avoiding sugar a little better than I was, and my fat loss re-accelerated. For the record, 215 is what I weighed when I started college. I honestly never thought I would see that again. I’m still not to the body fat % that I’d like to be, mostly because I really want to see abs at some point in my life. So I’ll keep losing fat until I see them. That’s my body comp goal. Once I get to that level of leanness, I think I’ll start trying to increase my lean mass. There’s supposed to be a mechanism that makes leaner people put more excess calories into lean mass than fat, so I’m kinda banking on that. After losing all this fat, I really don’t want it back on my body. I’ll get nice and lean, then I’ll bulk up again.

I got back on the Omron, even though it was frustrating me. I had been using “normal” setting all along, since I knew I had pretty high body fat. This morning, I tried it again and still got 23% on normal setting. I switched it to Athlete and updated my weight and it came back with 16.5% instead. That seems much more in line with what I’m seeing in the mirror.I’m actually thinking I might be under 15% body fat now, just based on how I look, but I’ll reserve judgement on it.

Also, measured my waist and it looks like 35.5″ at this point. Down from 40+” a few short months ago? Yes please. I also picked up some new pants last night in 34/34. They fit comfortably and they look fantastic. I haven’t worn a 34/34 since high school, if that gives you any indication. I had gotten up to barely fitting into my 38″ waist pants (and most companies are very generous with their waist sizes these days) and now I’m cruising around in these babies. I don’t know that I can adequately express how happy all of this progress has made me. I just feel great about my body for the first time in a very long time.

So anyway, that’s where we are now. Everything is going like gangbusters and all in the right direction.  I really think I’m maybe a month or two away from sub-10% body fat. If I assume that the Omron is accurate at 16.5% right now, that means I still have 180 lbs of lean mass, with 35 pounds of body fat. If I drop 15 more pounds of body fat at the same lean mass, that will get me under 10%. That used to seem insurmountable, but now it seems inevitable. If I hit 200 lbs within the next 1-2 months, that should mean 10%, which should mean visible abs, as long as there’s enough muscle to provide definition (I’m pretty sure there is, but I’ll keep working). So 200 lbs is my next weight goal, with 10% body fat still being my body comp goal. I’m going to keep doing my sort of lame-ass workouts (pushups or squats or planks or pullups or swings 2-3 times per week), and try to improve as much as possible. Right now though, leaning out is my primary goal, so I’m going to focus on keeping my food right.

Thanks for reading!

I work out

If you don’t know this song, your life is incomplete. There’s a lot of dudeflesh in the video, but it’s funny as hell.

This morning, I finally got to swing some iron. It was just 25 Russian KB swings with a 24kg bell, but it winded me like mad. My muscles weren’t super sore, but my cardio has really suffered from my long exercise hiatus. I also did some pull-ups (two hands on one ring) and some pushups (on the edge of the tub, since I’m still a wuss). I actually managed 3.75 pullups, which I think may be the most I’ve ever done ever. I think lifting my current body weight must just be easier, because there’s significantly less of it. Like 10% less. That’s crazy.

So anyway, that was cool. I’m going to do my best to do some intense, sprinting-type workouts at least once or twice a week. I know I keep saying that, but the more I say it, the more likely it is. That’s how it works, isn’t it?

Some foods

Hey guys! Well I realized that this blog is intensely text-heavy and that I haven’t posted many pictures. And that’s lame and boring, no matter how scintillating the writing happens to be. So here are some pictures. Kind of recipes, too.

This is my lunch salad:

There it is. That’s organic spinach, “Spring Mix” (whatever that means), onions, olives, pepperoni, cheese and dressing. This is my homemade vinaigrette, which I really love. The salad is very much a “put in a handful of this” so it’s a little hard to make into a proper recipe. However, the dressing is a little better. My friend Kristie gave me the rough cut of it, and this is what I did.

Build it in your blender, first off.

Ratio of 2:1 oil to acid.

For me, that meant 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar and 1/2 a cup of extra virgin olive oil

You also need an emulsifier, which means some mustard, in this case. I’ve got a jar of stone-ground mustard that I’d never used, but I put a teaspoon or so of that in the blender as well.

Then, seasonings. I put in a couple squeezes of honey to sweeten the pot, so to speak. I also threw in some fresh garlic. I think I shook in a few sprinkles from my “generic Italian seasonings” jar. Honestly, all my cooking is a little bit “Rainman” so I can’t tell you exactly. Wait, I guess Rainman could tell you exactly. Maybe my cooking is more Zaphod Beeblebrox? That sounds about right. Anyway, Get all this stuff in your blender, then mix it up. It shouldn’t take long. Pour it into your container of choice. Ta-freakin’-da. Couldn’t be easier. And it’s freaking delicious, to boot.

So there you go, that’s one thing. But what about another thing?

This is what I use to make my tasty frozen treats. I started with just puréed pineapple, frozen, then added some coconut milk, now I’m adding strawberries. Look at me go.

Okay, open up the cans of pineapple, drain the juice out, and then put the fruit into the blender. Our blenders are getting a workout today, eh? Wash it between uses, though. Savage.

That’s the ticket. Now put your strawberries in there.

Nailed it. Now open up the can of coconut milk and pour it in there, too. I’m not including a picture of that because it looked a little weird. You don’t need to see that.

There it is. You just purée for a while and everything ends up looking sort of like a smoothie. Now, you have options. If you have an ice cream maker, you can put this in there and make it into some semblance of ice cream or sorbet. i don’t, so I haven’t tried that but i really want to. What I’ve been doing is freezing it solid in the freezer and then scraping at it with a spoon like a chimp with a termite nest. Obviously this is not the best solution. So anyway, I’m still working on that part. But coconut + pineapple is super tasty in most any format. Even just putting it in the fridge should get you something with a pudding-esque consistency.

I think that’s it for now. You get an entree and a dessert. I’ll work on other stuff as I figure it out. Enjoy!

What is Paleo? What is Paleo Not? How is Paleo not just Atkins with more hair?

This is a question I get asked sometimes, and until recently I didn’t have a great answer. I guess the reason is that as I’ve learned more, my understanding has increased dramatically, and I realize just how little I knew previously. So when people ask me “What is paleo?” I think I’m going to answer in one of two ways.

The first way would be to say that the paleo diet is a diet that focuses primarily on foods that were available to our pre-agricultural ancestors. That means no grains, no legumes, no dairy. Anything you can hunt or gather in the wild is fair game, and things that taste good raw without making you sick are preferred, even if you do cook them before eating. That means you’re eating mammals, birds, fish, eggs, leaves, roots, nuts, seeds and fruits when they’re in season. Probably insects too, but that’s not overly enticing, so we’ll leave them out. Basically, you’re using history as your guide. Foods are either “Paleo” or “Not Paleo.” The idea here is that our genes are essentially unchanged for the past 100,000 years or so, and any foods that have arisen since then are more likely to cause problems, since we had had insufficient time to adapt to eating them. So you use the historical perspective to guide your choices.

The second way is to say that you eat foods which promote a lean, healthy, strong, functional body and a quick, agile mind. Many of these foods will fit the mold above, but maybe not all of them. Some people tolerate carbohydrate better than others, so maybe their diet will be a bit heavier on starchy tubers. Some people tolerate milk into adulthood better than others, so dairy might not be a problem for them. Some people (though it’s rare) don’t even have any negative reaction to gluten, and notice no difference in how they feel either with or without it. So this way is more of a self-experimental diet. Basic unweighed, unmeasured paleo eating, without any grains, legumes or dairy for 30 days is a great baseline. After that you can start to fiddle. Add back some beans. Try a piece of whole wheat bread or some whole milk and see how you feel. I’m not just saying you should go from a strict paleo diet to eating a loaf of bread one day and use that as your gauge. You will probably feel sick, but that doesn’t mean it was a food sensitivity, it might just be that you binged. Give it a week or two with whole wheat products back in your diet in reasonable quantities. That way, you’ll have enough time to be able to tell if you feel better or worse on a daily basis, and you’ll be able to see if weight keeps coming off or if it starts to come back on. it’s a good idea to get a blood test from your doctor, and get a few measurements in the gym as far as performance goes. Then you try your 1-2 week trial with grains reintroduced and measure yourself again. That way you have something objective to compare to. If you react so badly in the first few days that you don’t want to continue, that’s a worthwhile result, too. This is self-experimentation and while it doesn’t satisfy the rigorous standards to be real science (may not be applicable to all groups, for example) it is certainly useful information for you.

The first way is easier to explain to people, and it’s easier for people new to the idea to keep track of what’s “good” and what’s “bad” even if those terms aren’t really useful in a larger context. Food is good or bad because of the effect it has on you, your community and the world at large. And those scales can slide, depending on a lot of different factors. So let’s not talk about foods being good or bad, or foods being paleo or non-paleo once we have a deeper understanding. Those are simplistic distinctions that are useful to a novice, but they quickly get silly as you learn more.

Paleo is more about food quality than anything else. Most other diets are either based on some magical food (acai berries, grapefruit, green tea, etc.) that is supposed to be the key to health, or they’re based on magical ratios of macronutrients (Atkins or The Zone spring to mind), or they may even be based on how your body reacts to he macronutrient profile of the food (Glycemic Index). What very few of them care about is where that food came from, or how the non-nutritive qualities of the food can affect you.

Okay, I think I’ve mentioned food quality a few times, but what do I mean? First off, I mean the foods that help make you lean, healthy, happy, etc. Those are “good” foods. You should also try to buy things locally and organically as much as possible. Your meats and eggs should be pastured, if possible, or at least organic. Buying them from someone you can actually shake hands with and see their operation is the best option. Buying food that is sustainably grown, bought from small, local family farms, and contributes to your own health is the very definition of a good food. That’s good for you, good for your community and good for the planet. Can’t beat that with a stick. You should also eat foods that promote internal health as well as external. What does that mean? I mean that a six-pack tacked on top of an unhealthy gut isn’t a good goal. You should have a healthy-feeling gut and a healthy-looking gut. If you eat foods that have a higher potential to be gut-irritating, that’s not ideal. Being healthy requires a healthy, functioning digestive system. Eating foods that don’t irritate your gut will help keep you on that track. Eating foods that balance your Omega 3 and 6 fat intake is also good. So that’s one of the reasons to go for grassfed meats and to avoid chemically-processed vegetable oils. Food quality is also about avoiding things that are known to be unhealthy, like trans fats. In the end, if you make good choices about food quality, you’re way down the road to good health.

This is where it’s easier to differentiate a Paleo diet from Atkins or just generally low-carb diets. Low-carb diets are not necessarily Paleo diets and Paleo diets are not necessarily low carb. Blasphemy, right? Hold on a second and I’ll explain. Robb Wolf says the Paleo diet is “carb agnostic” and I like that phrase. What he means is that your own personal body, goals and lifestyle will determine how much carbohydrate you need to eat. For me, I’m relatively sedentary and trying to lean out. I don’t need very much carbohydrate at all, and adding too many carbs to a sedentary body can slow down the leaning out process. For someone who is already lean and healthy and is working out intensely and depleting their glycogen stores, they will need to replete those with more glucose. That means they may end up eating 150-200g of carbohydrate a day. That’s not low carb by anyone’s standard. That’s very moderate carb.  What makes that a paleo diet is the type of carb you use to replete your stores. And that’s determined by which foods give you the carbs you need without irritating your gut. Again, food quality is more important than being low carb or matching some ratio or eating one magical food that will supposedly erase all the negative effects of the other foods you eat. The only food that does that is ipecac. You’d have a hard time marketing that diet outside the fashion industry, I’m thinking. Anyway, you eat good quality food most of the time and match your intake to your needs and you do just fine.

While most people eat a Paleo diet that is low carb, that doesn’t mean you have to. Manipulate your diet to match your body, your activities and your goals. Your diet should be dynamic, if nothing else because variety and changing things up helps keep you running in the best form. Also, keep in mind that your body, when healthy, can handle a rough patch every now and again. Once you’ve increased your insulin sensitivity and gotten your Omega 3/6 balance back on track, you will be able to get away with eating foods that might have thrown you off the rails before. This isn’t to say that you have to be 100% on track with all your food choices until you see the dawning of the abs. I’m probably 80% on track most days and I’m still doing great. Remember that it’s what you do the majority of the time that really makes the difference in the long run. So don’t let little hiccups throw you off track. It’s not the mistake that matters, it’s what you do afterward.

So for people who are confused about what the Paleo diet is all about or for people I’ve confused with my ignorance previously, hopefully this will help make sense of it all. Paleo is not necessarily low-carb, it’s not just an Atkins clone, it’s a whole different animal than most other diets you’re likely to hear about. In any case, please let me know if you have questions. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll do my best. Thanks for reading!

Progress and some links

Well, this weekend didn’t screw me up too hard after all. Here’s how it all went down.

On Saturday, we went to a friend’s house for board games and spaghetti. He made the spaghetti sauce gluten free for all of us glutards (a term my friend Jordan came up with) and we got some gluten-free brown rice noodles that were actually very tasty. I ate a small bowl of that and probably 4-5 pieces of gluten-free garlic bread I made. Against the Grain makes frozen baguettes that are really good, and I just put some pastured butter and fresh garlic on there. So that meal was pretty heavy on carbs, but still at least somewhat reasonable.

Sunday, I made some gluten-free pancakes for my wife with Pamela’s baking mix. They turned out really well. They were light, fluffy, but with some body to them. I’d be lying if I said I’d ever made pancakes from Bisquik mix that were as good. I only ate a few bites of them, though. The great thing is that Jenna actually really enjoyed them. Finding good gluten-free substitutes can be a challenge, but we’ve been doing a good job with it. So anyway, I had some eggs and sausage and a couple bites of pancakes. They were super tasty. Then I went over to the Webbers’ house to help them with a project. Kristie was super sweet and made me some gluten-free pancakes using Red’s gluten-free pancake mix, I believe. She wrapped them around some chipotle-seasoned eggs because she knows how much I love me some chipotle. That was still a very reasonable amount of carbohydrate, though it was more than I usually eat. The real problem didn’t come until later.

Anyway, for lunch we went to a brewery and I got a side salad and a double bacon cheeseburger without the bun. I’m sure it was CAFO meat and cheese and the bacon was probably loaded with all sorts of nasties. I’m starting to get a bit of an upset stomach when I eat low-quality foods, even if they’re protein and fat. The good stuff never gives me trouble, but the factory farmed stuff has to be in small doses or it makes me a little sick. I’m so delicate now! That sort of upsets me in some ways, because I don’t like the idea of losing my digestive toughness, but I also really don’t like being borderline obese and gaining 5-10 pounds every year, or having to count my calories and work my butt off to maintain. So anyway, I’m trying even harder to eat quality foods. I also tried a couple bites of Jenna’s baked sweet potato and it was really good! I thought I didn’t like sweet potatoes, but that one was super tasty. So now I’m thinking maybe I like actual fresh sweet potatoes and just don’t like the nasty canned yam junk.

On our way home from there, we stopped by See’s candies. See’s has recently gone 99% gluten free in all their candies, with the only exceptions being things with frosting decorations on them. So as long as you avoid that stuff, everything is gluten free (without even cross-contamination, since nothing is processed with gluten on their machines), and they also have a solid list of soy- and dairy-free options. Anyway, if you’re looking to have something sweet and delicious, you could do worse than See’s candy. however, when you eat half a pound of See’s candies in a sitting, that will not end well for you. That’s precisely what I did. I ate a few pieces and then went on a giant binge and just ate everything I had gotten. It was delicious, for sure. That is easily the most sugar I’ve eaten in one sitting in about two months, though. I should have anticipated some repercussions.

We headed back over to the Webbers’ house to finish up some stuff, and Kristie made us some gluten-free tortilla soup. It was super delicious and I ate all of my bowl and most of Jenna’s. There were tortilla strips, corn and potatoes in it, so it was a little starchy, but I know I would have been just fine with it if I hadn’t blown my carbs for the day into the stratosphere with my candy binge. The weekend was a little carb heavy for me overall, even without the candy, but I don’t think I would have had any major troubles if I had just left it as those starchy foods and then gotten back on track on Monday.

Instead, I ended up with a sugar hangover on Monday morning. I was lethargic, a little nauseated, mentally foggy and unfocused and had a headache. That lasted most of the day, unfortunately. It sucked. It was bad enough that it will keep me away from binges for a good long while. The candy was tasty, but the few minutes of pleasure it gave me wasn’t even close to being worth feeling like 200 pounds of smashed ass. It’s hard to believe I used to do that sort of thing on a regular basis. You might not fully understand the magnitude of my sweet tooth if you haven’t seen me eat in real life. Servings of candy for me were measured in significant fractions of a pound. I would go to the store and look at the price per ounce and buy the most cost-efficient candy even if I didn’t like it that much, simply because I knew I’d be plowing through the whole bag in no time. This was an almost daily occurrence. Go back a couple years ago and I was drinking probably a gallon or more of soda every day in addition to the candy. How I’m not diabetic or in a coma is anyone’s guess. I should at least have been north of 300 pounds, but I always managed to keep my activity just high enough to keep the weight gain to a slow creep. Anyway, enough of all that. It was gross and I can’t believe I used to do that to my poor body. Now that I’ve stopped mistreating it so horribly, it has started rewarding me.

On that note, here’s some progress. I’m just about at 8 weeks since starting my 30-day trial, and here’s what I’ve accomplished:

Weight: 245 down to 220. That’s 25 pounds of scale weight in two months. At first, I was hesitant to say that a majority of my weight loss was body fat, but now I’m confident that such is the case. I’m simply looking far too lean for it to be anything else. Can’t say precisely how much of it is fat vs. water vs muscle, but I think there was some water early on, and then mostly fat. I don’t feel like I’ve lost significant muscle mass, though. My muscles are still feeling the same size as they did before, just without the chub layer.

Suprailiac pinch: With the new calipers, I’m going to estimate I started at 23-25mm. I measured at 21-23 about two weeks in, so I think that’s reasonable. This morning, I measured at 16-17mm. That is just a huge difference. My skin is feeling…thin. It’s weird. Weird in an awesome way. I’m not going to use this as a gauge of my body fat %, but between this pinch, my waist measurement, my waist, and how I look in the mirror, I feel comfortable saying I’m under 20% body fat now. Probably 18-19% at the most, and maybe even 16-17%, though that may be wishful thinking on my part.

Waist: 40+” down to 36.75″ this morning. That’s a pretty huge difference. My pants are looking increasingly silly, and are actually getting uncomfortable because of all the material bunched up in the waistband. I have a few pairs that are significantly smaller, and they are much more comfortable. I’m debating about buying new pants now, because I don’t know whether to buy 34″ or 36″ waist pants. That’s a nice problem to have vs not knowing whether to buy 38″ or 40″ waist pants. Anyway, I know everything is going to keep going the right way as long as I keep doing my part.

General: I’m feeling muscle right under the skin in a lot of areas, now. I didn’t realize just how much fat I had spread out over my body, and the loss has been pretty subtle. There’s a lot of me, so even a lot of fat can be spread pretty thin. But it’s all slowly but surely melting away. My biceps are looking more defined, and my legs are feeling pretty darned lean. I’m focusing largely on my torso, because it has always been my biggest problem area. The abdominal fat is thinning, though slowly. I’m feeling muscle right under skin over on my obliques, my love handles are getting less dense and getting slightly smaller, and the front and center fat pad is getting less dense and thinner as well. I’m not sure when I’ll catch sight of my abs, but I’m thinking it will be early next year. For the record, I have literally never had anything even approaching a six-pack. Even when I was in the best shape of my life, I’ve always had belly fat and love handles. I’ve gotten pretty lean everywhere else, but never in my stomach. So this is all very exciting. I’m also learning more about why this happens, and that makes it all feel more like I have control over my own fitness destiny.

So anyway, there you go. That’s what’s been going on with me. I’ve been trying to avoid fast foods and I’ve done that for a few weeks now. That’s making me feel better in a big way. The key is just having enough convenient food at home so I don’t get caught up in the “But it’s so much easier to go through the drive-through” trap. It also helps to mentally kick that out as an option. If you were hungry and couldn’t run through Wendy’s, what would you do? You’d find something to eat at home or you’d stay hungry. That’s a good enough motivation to inspire some creativity in me when it’s required. It also helps to keep those nights in mind when you go to the store. Find some convenience foods that you can heat up or unwrap in a pinch. You also need to get your problem foods out of the house if you don’t have the willpower to stay away from them. When you’re hungry and don’t feel like making a big meal, that box of Fruity Pebbles (a heart-healthy, law-fat food packed with the goodness of whole grains!) may just be too hard to resist.

I haven’t tried these yet, but they look awesome. I’ll pick up a few and let you know how I like them, but they would be a fantastic option to have around the house for when you need a snack/meal on the run:  Steve’s Original PaleoKits

Also, read this. It’s incredibly inspiring. Vainglory His whole blog is here: Food is for Fuel And an entry that I read and actually gave me goosebumps is here: Reasons Not To Lose Weight

Ancestral Health Symposium

So I didn’t know this happened (probably because I’m still catching up on my podcasts, having only recently reached the end of 2010) until after the fact, but it’s awesome. It’s basically a conference for people interested in the way evolutionary biology can impact modern health. Fantastic stuff. Lots of people from the straight-up paleo world, but also some people who are just generally low carb or low sugar or whatever. There’s also a lot of discussion on ancestral fitness, involving different types of exercise and all the rest. It’s a very science-heavy conference and most of the speakers are MDs, PhDs or both. Some of the info is extremely dense and can be tough to understand without the benefit of the slides (some of the video have links to the slides in the description, but others do not). So just poke around through the list on this dude’s Youtube page: wormmy1

Alternatively, you can check these out individually, since they’re the ones I’ve watched and enjoyed so far. I’ll provide a little intro/description as needed.

Gary Taubes – The Case Against Sugar(s) -This is a fairly similar talk to much of the other stuff I’ve seen by Taubes, but it’s a little more focused, maybe. Anyway, dude is wicked smart and brings things up that I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of, so I enjoy watching whatever he has to say.

Mathieu LaLonde – An Organic Chemist’s Perspective on Paleo – It is unfair to the rest of us that this guy gets to be a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard and be this freakin’ jacked. Seriously. Anyway, he sort of takes the rest of us to task about the way we describe the paleo diet and the science behind it. I know I’m guilty of doing many of the things he calls us out on, and seeing this has made me realize that I was guilty of making some pretty lame assertions, scientifically speaking. So it’s not an easy one to listen to, if you do this sort of thing, but it’s a great one to listen to if you like having your brain blown out the back of your skull by pure, unadulterated science.

Robb Wolf – The Paleo Solution -Robb tells his story, and explains a little bit about what he’s seen with his own clients. A great talk, and inspired me to re-read his book by the same name.

Michael Eades, MD – Protein Power – Dr. Eades has been in the low-carb game for a long time now. You may recognize him from Fat Head, if you’ve seen that (and if not, why not?). He brings up some really great points as well about how easy it is to ignore “that which is not seen.” I really liked this talk a lot. It puts some things into perspective that needed to be.

Devin Boyd, DDS and Michael Mew, DDS – Caries and Malocclusion – The first speaker is pretty jumbled, disorganized and difficult to follow, unfortunately. There’s good info in there, but it’s tougher to get at. The second speaker does a really great job all around, and brings up a behavioral and dietary reason for the change in our face shape. That has led to issues with crooked teeth and various other problems. Very fascinating stuff, especially since I have a baby on the way.

Primal Mind – Nora Gedgaudas – Nora is the author of Primal Body, Primal Mind which I know I’ve mentioned before. great book, and this is a very interesting talk on the relation between diet and mental health. Fascinating stuff, and it really makes you look at mental illness in a much different way.

Okay, that’s probably enough to keep you busy for a while. I may put up another post with links to more of these as I get through more of them myself. Enjoy!

Gary Taubes – Why We Get Fat

This is a fantastic talk by Gary Taubes. Taubes is a science journalist who started out pointing out bad science in physics, until some of his sciencey friends told him for the really juicy stuff he ought to go look at the science being done in public health. He’s been doing that ever since, and has written a couple of books on the subject. One of them, Good Calories, Bad Calories, is a 500-page treatise written to doctors, researchers and policy-makers, giving them a history of the bad science and governance that has gotten us to where we are. It’s essentially a very long and detailed way of saying “You’re very wrong,” which is obviously super happy-making with all of them. The other, Why We Get Fat, is more of a layman’s instruction manual. It’s a diet book for the thinking man, I guess.

Anyway, he also has a talk he gives wherein he explains this exact issue. Why do we get fat? Has the science of the past 30-40 years been as good as we think it is? Have we been mislead or misinformed by our government diet recommendations? What can we do about our obesity problem? Yeah, it’s awesome. So here it is. Enjoy!

Gary Taubes – Why We Get Fat

Kale chips?

After watching the TED video I posted the other day, I decided to check out these kale chips she mentioned. I bought a dehydrator from a friend not too long ago, but hadn’t done anything with it. I’d been wanting to try out some jerky or dried fruit, but the kale chips seemed pretty solid. So last night, I gave it a go. I found a few recipes that advocated a simple approach, so that’s what I did. A bunch of kale torn into chip-sized pieces, 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, and a couple pinches of sea salt. Mix thoroughly with your hands so that each leaf gets a good coating, then arrange the leaves in your dehydrator. Mine doesn’t even have a switch (you just plug it in) so it’s about as simple as it gets.

You may not be familiar with kale, it occurs to me. This is kale:

Kale

Raw, it tastes like the south end of a northbound stank demon. Not delicious. Keep that in mind. It’s something you eat because it’s healthy, not because you enjoy it. Unless you enjoy stank.

I let them go overnight and then some, so maybe a total of 10-12 hours, all told. When they came out, they had darkened significantly, and had gotten crispy. When I ate them, the flavor is almost not. What I mean is that they taste like salty crunchy, not like kale. The aftertaste has a very slight kale tone to it, but it’s nothing like the “Why are you in my mouth?!” reaction you get with raw kale. So I don’t think the kale chips are going to put Doritos out of business, but as a means of getting kale into your diet, they’re pretty solid. I may try different seasonings with future batches, adding garlic or whatever to see if that helps mask even the little remaining kale flavor. It’s honestly not bad enough that you’d need to work hard at getting rid of it, but I’m a tinkerer by nature.

So there you go. next time I make them and have any idea of what I’m doing, I’ll take some pictures of the process. i always forget to do that when I get excited about a new project, but I’ll try to be better.